NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.

Tumbleweed Motel, Coldwater, N.M.

Sierra sighed. Joey had come a long way since she’d met him 12 years ago, but he still needed a lot more direction than she remembered to give him sometimes. 

He’d spent the afternoon taking down the Christmas tree and the lights around the windows. If it had been up to Sierra, they would have come down the day after Christmas, but Joey liked them, and Sandy had suggested it wouldn’t be too gauche to leave them up through Epiphany. Sierra had finally agreed, on the condition that Joey would be responsible for taking down all the decorations and packing them away. 

Joey had happily disassembled the old aluminum tree, packed it back into its box, and tucked the rest of the decorations into plastic tubs. And then Joey had left the box and tubs stacked precariously on the office counter while he went off to his room to watch Dr. Pimple Popper, which Sierra firmly refused to let him watch in the lobby.

Technically, he’d kept up his end of the bargain. The decorations were packed away. If I wanted him to put them back in the shed, I should have told him that, Sierra thought. She still forgot how literally Joey took her words sometimes.   Continue reading Kelpie